As the lift door opened into a lobby with lush overhanging foliage, I thought I had stumbled upon a secret garden. Instead, this was the new Yun Wellness flagship concept that recently opened in Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong, with plans for replication in other Shangri-la properties worldwide.
The calming mood is fostered by botanical-themed interiors, as well as nature elements inspired by the nearby Hong Kong Park in the form of bamboo trellis and lattice patterns on the walls and ceilings.
Besides 10 treatment rooms, including two for couples and two dedicated to health consultations and physiotherapy, there is also a 28.5-meter outdoor swimming pool, a well-equipped gym, and a hair salon. The well-appointed changing rooms are in earthy hues and elegant finishings, complete with high-end amenities, such as Dyson hairdryers and clean-beauty toiletries from American brand John Masters Organics.
Yun Wellness taps on the attraction of being a one-stop hub of self-improvement and wellbeing for harried urbanites, even while on vacation. Besides body treatments and facials, there are also pre- and post-natal care services, physiotherapy, personal training, yoga and pilates classes, as well as consultations with nutritionists to support an all-rounded journey to health.
The hotel is also the only one in Hong Kong with high-tech equipment such as far-infrared sauna and Exilis Ultra 360 machines approved by the United States Food Development Agency.
During a yin yoga, sound healing, and meditation class, I learned how to work through my frustration at not being able to maintain certain poses that required more flexibility than I was able to achieve. Our teacher, Maria, encouraged us that our best efforts were enough, and I finally let go of the need for perfection to enjoy the stretches and the lulling vibrations of the singing bowls.
The signature Regenerating Body Treatment uses the radio frequency and ultrasound features of the Exilis Ultra 360 machine, combined with dry body brushing and body masking, to achieve tighter and smoother skin. Along the way, fatty deposits are broken down and the healthy production of collagen is stimulated.
In anticipation of much feasting in the city of tempting food options, I requested for the treatment to be focused on my abdomen. My therapist Mandy was stellar in her service. She explained every step of the process and constantly made sure I was comfortable. Given that it was a one-off treatment, I had not expected significant results. I was thus surprised to find that after six days of three full meals each day, and many smaller ones in between, I barely gained several hundred grams when I would usually totter home at least two kilograms heavier.
Island Shangri-La’s newly renovated suites added to the relaxation of my two-night stay. My Cityview Suite with separate living and sleeping areas, a kitchenette and white marble bathrooms (yes, there are two) faced the lush greenery of Victoria Peak. I would have lounged all morning on the sun-dappled sofa if not for the enticing breakfast buffet spread at the hotel’s Café Too. It included delicious fare from the city’s iconic local eateries, such as Yat Lok Roast Goose, On Lee Noodle, and Tai Cheong Bakery.
Yun’s wellness director Dr Tal Friedman shared: “People are increasingly incorporating aspects of wellness into their daily lives, such as mindfulness, better nutrition, physical activity, and skincare. The future of hotel wellness spaces is allowing people to keep up these daily practices wherever they go and ensure that they feel taken care of. It is also inviting them to learn more about new wellness practices that they can take home with them.” I certainly left with a new perspective towards well-being beyond achieving milestones to making the best of whatever life brings.
These hotel spas also incorporate technology into their services to enhance well-being.
Clinique La Prairie Aesthetics & Medical Spa, Bangkok
The Lanesborough Club & Spa, London
Fairmont Spa Century Plaza, Los Angeles
For more information, visit www.shangri-la.com/hongkong/islandshangrila/health-leisure/spa.
A version of this article first appeared in Portfolio.